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in congressman jeff flake, republican from arizona, and soon-to-be senator in just a few days. good morning. thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me on. >> i don't need to tell you, time is quickly running out. how optimistic are you or pessimistic about a deal before midnight? >> you know, about 50/50 right now. i obviously would like to see a deal that would avoid the cliff, but it depends upon the content. i think the worst thing we can do is turn off the sequester or the automatic spending cuts. the real cliff will come if we fail to deal with our debt and deficit. we just can't do that. >> that -- >> i don't like the content of the sequester. i do think it inordinately hits defense but that is something we can negotiate once we get into the new year. but to turn off those cuts would be just a frank admission we can't cut spending ever. i think the markets will respond very negatively to that and as well they should. >> you've also said republicans are resigned to seeing some sort of income tax hike. i wonder what is acceptable to you. we've heard 400,000, we've heard 450,000. is
does it make it seem like con are gres gress is irrelevant. jeff sessions has repeatedly made the point and i want to play something for you that he said yesterday. >> we all know what the plan is, what the scheme is, the strategy is. it is to be meeting in secret and then plop down on the floor of the senate at the last hour, some sort of coerced agreement that all of the senators like lemmings are supposed to vote for. >> is that what is going on here? some coerced agreement that you're going to have to vote for? >> i wouldn't describe it as a coerced agreement. but you can't have 500 people in the room negotiating an agreement. so, yes, we have our leadership, they sit down with the president, they hammer out a deal, they come back to us. our opportunity for input in this process is with our leadership. we have caucuses multiple times each week. we express to our leaders, this is what we want to see. this is what we will support. we do not want to see action on this or be pressed on this. don't come back to us with a proposal on this. that's the way that we can influence the ultimate
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